Keep mowing your lawn right up until the first frost, but keep the grass length longer than 2½" throughout the fall season. When you mow for the last time, use a mulching mower. The mulch will keep as much nitrogen as possible in the soil over the winter and into the spring. Don’t forget to check your lawn for weeds. Use a dandelion weeder to pop them out of the soil, and they won’t return in the spring.
As leaves collect on your lawn, rake them regularly to keep your grass healthy. Leaves can smother and kill the grass if left on your lawn. Rake up as many leaves as possible and bag them for disposal or you can also shred them and spread on the lawn as compost.
Pruning is a vital part of fall yard clean up and maintenance. Prune any dead, diseased or out-of-control branches from trees and shrubs. Use a handsaw to saw off branches that are dead, infested with insects or disease, or that have grown too close to power lines and pose a safety threat. Bypass loppers work well for smaller branches. Always cut away from yourself so the branch does not fall toward you.
Always keep ladders, tools, equipment and yourself at least 10' away from any overhead power lines.
Make sure to wear safety goggles when working with a handsaw or loppers.
Observe basic ladder safety procedures to avoid serious injury from a fall. Invest in an adjustable ladder stabilizer that attaches to the ladder and braces onto the roof.
Water your trees and shrubs deeply one last time before winter, paying special attention to any newly planted foliage. And, don’t forget to bring your potted plants inside when overnight temperatures dip below 50ºF. Spray potted plants with a garden hose to clean off dirt and wash away pests before you bring them in.
After the first frost, cut back perennial growth to just a few inches above the ground using a sharp bypass pruner, garden shears or scissors. Throughout the winter, leave the stems above ground to protect the crown. The crown is the part of the plant at ground level where the stem meets the roots. Make sure you thoroughly pick up any plant parts you cut back and any other plant debris that has died and fallen off. Remove any weeds and other garden debris as well, disposing of it in yard refuse bags. Leaving this organic matter in your garden could bring disease, insects and rodent infestation, as they are all attracted to decaying vegetation.